Granting agency beaurocracy jumps the shark.

NSERC has done some weird things in the past. Like running a peer review system that costs more than just giving every qualified researcher the amount of an average grant. Like cutting the MSc scholarship to one year. Like offering other scholarships that are much higher than the average lab’s operating grant. Like being notoriously averse to funding discovery science under the “Discovery Grants” program.

But this memo, which I assure you is not a joke, marks the moment when the shark truly was jumped.

Eligible and non-eligible expenses for stationery and office supplies

General Rule
Funding agencies expect institutions to assume the indirect costs and general expenses of the research project. Grant funds are used to cover the direct costs of research, including costs that would not have been incurred if the research project had not been undertaken. Funds cannot be used to pay for general expenses such as costs associated with office accessories normally already provided for institution staff.

The funds must be used effectively and economically, and the expenses must be essential to the research supported by the grant.

It may be concluded that an expenditure on supplies is admissible if they are not part of the “basic equipment” of the university’s academic and research mission and if they are not normally provided for institution staff. Moreover, the recipient must explain how those supplies are essential to his/her research activities.

Equipment and Supplies
Expenditures on research equipment and supplies, as well as costs of training staff who will use the specialized instruments or facilities, are eligible.

Examples of Eligible Expenses:

  • laboratory notebooks
  • paper used for laboratory operations in the context of a funded research project (correspondence with clients, printing of results)
  • paper used for data collection (questionnaires)
  • printing of an equipment user manual for a new researcher or assistant working on the funded research project
  • printing of e-journal articles relevant to the research project

Examples of Ineligible Expenses:

  • office accessories for laboratory employees, researchers and students (paper clips, pens, file folders, writing pads, ring binders, day planners, wastebaskets)

Dissemination of Research Results
Costs associated with the dissemination of findings, i.e., through traditional venues as well as videos, CD-ROMs, etc., are eligible, as are costs of preparing a research manuscript for publication.

Examples of Eligible Expenses:

  • paper and ink cartridges for printing of different manuscript versions
  • research-related paper documents, posters and pamphlets distributed to conference, workshop and focus group participants

Services and Miscellaneous Expenses
Costs for the purchase of books or periodicals, specialized office supplies, computing equipment and information services not formally provided by the institution to all academic and research staff are eligible.

The funding agencies note that certain miscellaneous education-related expenses, such as costs of thesis preparation, tuition and course fees and costs associated with the preparation of teaching materials, are ineligible.

Examples of Eligible Expenses:

  • special paper or writing tools required for the research project
  • laboratory notebooks or special binders in which to archive research project data

Examples of Ineligible Expenses:

  • paper used by students to print different versions of their dissertation or thesis
  • paper used to prepare course notes
  • filing cabinets and hanging files

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